INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING IN THE 21ST CENTURY
"Shortwave radio has been called a God-given tool as the present-day key for communicating the Gospel worldwide". So says George Jacobs, a communications consultant specializing in shortwave broadcasting and frequency coordination.
Speaking at the 1998 annual meeting of the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters (NASB), Jacobs said several factors support his assertion: "Shortwave has the ability to transcend political, religious, and geographical barriers. It supplements the work of field missionaries and reaches into those areas where missionaries may not be able to go."
Jacobs says shortwave reaches millions of people simultaneously, yet it has the personal approach which allows the listener to experience the wide variety of religious programming, news and information, music and entertainment, arts and culture, and much more -- all in the privacy and safety of one's home.
"It is the most cost-effective of all the mass communication tools available," said Jacobs. "Shortwave radio receivers are available in every country, and it is presently estimated that there are as many as 600,000,000 existing receivers worldwide. All signs point to a continuing, healthy future for shortwave broadcasting into the first quarter of the 21st century and probably well beyond that".
Jacobs projects that shortwave broadcasting in the USA will continue to grow at about the present rate of one or two new stations a year. He expects that an increasing number of shortwave broadcasters will be making paid airtime available to interested parties as we go into the 21st century.
Jacobs pointed out that solar activity cycle #23 will be peaking in the early years of the 21st century, resulting in favorable shortwave propagation conditions for the next five or six years. He expects more HF spectrum to become available to broadcasters through regulatory procedures and as other services leave shortwave for microwave and satellites. Improved frequency planning, coordination, and target area feedback will result in clearer reception of shortwave broadcasts. Jacobs suggests that shortwave broadcasts may become widely available via the home personal computer and the Internet.
George Jacobs feels the first step in converting to digital will be
for it to be applied to the mediumwave band and then to shortwave.
When digital broadcasting becomes available it will still take some time
for a complete conversion to the new system. It will be important
for the transmitters and receivers to have simultaneous analog and digital
capability for a smooth transition from analog to digital. Editor’s
note: At least one system under consideration has this capability.
NEW EDITOR FOR WORLD RADIO TV HANDBOOK
When shortwave broadcasters and listeners need information about station schedules, technical data, addresses, fax numbers and names of key personnel, one of the first places they look is the World Radio TV Handbook -- universally known in the business as the "WRTH." This well-known annual reference book has just acquired its third full-time editor in 52 years. David Bobbett, a telecommunications journalist in England, has replaced former editor-in-chief Andy Sennitt, who resigned recently to pursue a career as a communications consultant. Along with this change, the WRTH office in Amsterdam has been closed and transferred to the city of Milton Keynes in England.
In its 52nd year now, the book is published by Billboard in New York – the same company which publishes the influential music magazine of the same name, read by radio stations worldwide. In recent years, the WRTH has gained some formidable competition from Passport to World Band Radio, another annual reference book dedicated to shortwave radio station schedules and information. Passport, edited by Larry Magne and published by International Broadcasting Services, Ltd. in Pennsylvania, is intended more for a North American readership. It has limited information on non-English broadcasts, and does not include information on local AM, FM and TV stations like the WRTH does. On the other hand, Passport's most unique feature is a thick section of detail-filled graphs, showing usage of all shortwave frequencies hour-by-hour, indicating the stations, languages, target areas, etcetera.
For those who are interested, here is the contact information for both publications. They appreciate receiving updated schedule information regularly from all shortwave stations.
World Radio TV Handbook
David Bobbett, Editor-in-Chief
P.O. Box 7373
Milton Keynes, MK12 5ZL
Passport to World Band Radio
Lawrence Magne, Editor-in-Chief
Penn's Park, PA 18943
Fax: (215) 598-3794
SEASON DESIGNATORS FOR INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTERS
The World Radiocommunication Conference held in late 1997 (WRC-97) adopted
some changes in the terminology used to designate the broadcasting seasons
as observed by shortwave international
As most of you recall, back when four seasons were observed, the designators
were M (Spring), J (Summer), S (Fall), and D (Winter).
In 1990 the change came about to operate with only two broadcast seasons
a year: the seven-month Summer season (Z), and the five-month Winter season
(W). In the most recent refinement, the Summer season will be referred
to as the "A" season; the Winter season as "B". Although this change
goes officially into effect on January 1, 1999, the W-98 season will retain
that same designator until it closes out near the end of March 1999.
Then we'll observe the A-99 and the B-99 Seasons.
HERALD BROADCASTING SELLS SAIPAN STATION
On July 2, 1998, The Herald Broadcasting Syndicate announced the sale of shortwave station KHBI to Radio Free Asia, a government-funded independent corporation. The Herald broadcasting Syndicate (HBS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.
Radio Free Asia, or RFA, had for the past 18 months been purchasing airtime on KHBI to broadcast its news and public events programs to Asia. The stations assets include two 100 kW transmitters, three curtain antennas, an 800 kW stand-by generator, and a transmitter building.
The sales agreement included an undisclosed amount of cash, and also includes a continuation of Herald Broadcasting Syndicate’s programming on the station.
Richard Richter, President of RFA, indicated the importance of the acquisition of the Saipan broadcasting facility: "KHBI is a well-run, efficiently located station," he said. "It will serve us well as we undertake to expand our broadcasting to help meet the pent-up demand for unbiased reporting of events in Asia." RFA has also agreed to continue the employment of the station's employees.
Harley Gates, President of HBS, said, "The sale of KHBI marks a change in the Church's approach to broadcasting. Rather than be both a producer and distributor of programming, the Church will be focusing on the editorial side of programming. This is the niche in which we feel we have the most to contribute."
HBS will continue to operate its shortwave station in South Carolina,
WSHB, which broadcasts to Eastern Europe, Africa, and Central and South
SHORTWAVE STATION WRNO FOR SALE
Joe Costello, a “Modern Era Pioneer” of privately-licensed shortwave stations in the United States, passed away in April 1997. Mr. Costello was the owner of WRNO-Shortwave. It is the intention of Mr. Costello's heirs to put the station up for sale. Located on six acres of property in the New Orleans suburbs, the station's assets include one new 50 kW CCA shortwave transmitter, a log periodic antenna oriented towards the eastern half of North America, and a transmitter building. The station operates on three well-established frequencies, 15420 kHz for daytime broadcasts, and 7355 kHz and 7955 kHz for evening/nighttime broadcasts.
While an offer of $300,000 has been submitted, further offers are being
solicited. George Jacobs, of George Jacobs and Associates, is the
Broker for the sale. Interested parties should contact George at
his Silver Spring, Maryland office.
Y2K CONFERENCE CALL-HF BROADCASTING
In a further effort to facilitate Y2K compliance (see their letter in the July 1998 issue of the NASB Newsletter), the FCC conducted a conference call on the 25th of September. Seven representatives of US International broadcasters and four from the FCC participated in the roundtable.
Rick Engelman, Chief of the Planning and Negotiations Division of the FCC, moderated the session which ran for a little over an hour. The purposes of the discussions were to raise awareness of Y2K issues with International broadcasters, to help licensees learn more about overall government and industry efforts with regard to the potential Y2K problems, and to educate the FCC about issues the broadcasters have encountered thus far.
Here are the questions that formed the basis for the discussions:
-Have you started looking into the Y2K issue? Have you made a
complete survey of computer, electronic, and
communications systems that your station uses or depends on? Have you determined whether any of the systems or components identified in the survey are not Y2K compliant? Have you made the necessary changes or replacements of these systems or components so that they are now Y2K compliant? If the answers to the previous three questions was no, what plans have you made to address them, including a specific timeline for resolving these issues? What is your level of confidence that you will meet the Y2K deadline so that all systems are Y2K compliant?
-Is your automated transmission equipment Y2K compliant? Have you identified any potential problems? What will it take to fix those problems?
-Is your automated studio equipment Y2K compliant? Have you identified any potential problems? What will it take to fix those problems?
-Are there any other equipment or systems that may have Y2K problems?
Any problems here could cause disruption of the receipt of programming
material. What would happen if there was a disruption of electrical
power? If you are using any business software on a PC, is the software
and the PC Y2K compliant? Have
you identified any potential problems? What will it take to fix those problems?
A number of the participants indicated that they had identified potential problems in various systems related to their broadcast operations. One problem common to most was to find a "down" or "quiet" period when they could test-run their system through the turnover date well in advance of the real-time Y2K date to determine with most confidence whether the system would encounter problems or not. Tests using various utility programs can be run to identify lurking problems, but don't give the confidence factor achieved by an actual full run of the system through the date change. Some were still analyzing some of the complex control systems. Some were in the process of replacing hardware and/or software that was identified as non-compliant.
The FCC panel suggested that broadcasters should check with important vendors and service/program providers as to their Y2K readiness. They mentioned that the software used in the frequency coordination processes is not Y2K-compliant. Because of the potential for interference to other transmissions, they were particularly concerned with aspects of broadcast automation that controlled transmitter on/off times, frequency setting, and changing of antenna modes.
Several of the FCC staff have developed considerable expertise in regards
to the Y2K issues. They intend to continue to expedite preparations by
HF broadcasters to achieve full Y2K compliance. Some future aspects
of enabling for Y2K compliance for International broadcasters envisioned
by the FCC are: surveys to be
sent to all the private HF broadcasters, additional conference calls, and pertinent links on the Web. (One future source for such links will be the NASB website.)
Adventist World Radio
Family Radio Network
Far East Broadcasting Co.
Herald Broadcasting Syndicate
High Adventure Ministries
LeSea Broadcasting Corp.
Radio Miami International
World Christian Broadcasting
WorldWide Catholic Radio
NASB Associate Members:
Continental Electronics Corp.
George Jacobs & Associates
Technology for Communication Int’l.